The Art of Storytelling in an Interview
Storytelling in an interview can be a masterful way to stand out and be remembered. Everyone likes a good story. But we aren’t talking about lying or making you sound better or more qualified than you really are. We would never recommend that.
Instead, we mean talking about yourself and your experiences in a compelling and interesting way that will leave the interviewer with a great sense of who you are, how you will fit with team, and maybe wanting to know even more. As in hiring you to find out.
A good story also engages the listener and provides thought provoking questions or observations. The interviewer can easily read your qualifications and work history on your resume, so learn how to bring them to life. Show your personality and character while you are at it.
Here’s how to dazzle ’em with a good story and land your next job.
Tips on how to master storytelling in an interview
#1. “Tell me about yourself.”
Ah, one of the most feared questions (along with #2) but it doesn’t have to be. Again, don’t regurgitate your resume. Here is you first real chance to shine. Be authentic while truthfully explaining who you are and what you get excited about. Don’t be afraid to include your values and strengths and what you learned in previous positions. Throw in a little bit about your hobbies and what you enjoy when you aren’t working. The point here is to give a brief, but well rounded answer to who you really are. (All positive, of course.)
Related: Three Different Ways for Answering “Tell Me About Yourself”
#2. Tell Me About A Mistake You Made
No one likes to admit when they screwed up. However, this a perfect opportunity to show how you learn from situations, move forward, and possibly prevent others from making the same mistake. Remember the classic, beginning – middle – end formula for a good story.
Beginning: What happened and the mistake you made
Middle: What you learned and/or how you fixed it
End: How you moved on and helped others.
#3. Tell Us About a Time You Solved a Problem
Similar to #2 but much more positive. What the interviewer is really looking for here is an example of your creative process and ability to work under stress. Again use the beginning – middle – end formula.
Beginning: The problem
Middle: How you solved it
End: What you learned
Another piece of information you could provide here is a different way you thought about solving it, but why you chose the way you did.
For example, “Team morale was really low after we lost a big account and I was tempted to wallow along with my colleagues because I was upset too. However, I saw an opportunity to bring the team around by initiating an “anything goes” idea brain storming session complete with treats and fancy stick notes and now it is a monthly tradition. Some of our best ideas came out of those sessions.”
Related: Candidate Questions to ask the Interviewer (and impress the heck out of them)
Storytelling in an Interview: The Wrap Up
Hopefully you are now getting some ideas of how to answer common interview questions in uncommon ways. Think about two or three different ways to tell the same story about yourself, your career experiences, and your skills. Make your stories compelling, teach the interviewer something about yourself, and above all else, be authentic. Don’t try to be anybody but yourself and you will do a far better job. Everyone has interesting stories, but nobody knows your stories better than you do and nobody can tell them like you can.
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